Once upon a time…

Our story starts in a beautiful theatre, the thick red velvet curtains are pulled open and we see a smiling woman.

She’s a seasoned actress, and has been on the same stage for 3 years. Her awards are hung meticulously on the wall, collecting dust, and there is an empty mug on very shelf. Her dressing room smells of coffee and lavender, and her door is always left open for visitors. Every day she comes in, putting on the same costume, performing the same part in the same play, just as she did the day before. She knows she’s stuck on repeat but she likes it this way, its predictable and safe.

Then one day everything changes. The director hits stop, hooks her off the stage and throws her out the side entrance. Her world is turned upside down. She spends a few days sitting among the dumpsters, breathing in the damp air, contemplating her life, trying decide which button to hit next.

Eject may sometimes feel like the only button left on the stereo. That the only option is to take out the cassette and flip it over. But regardless of how covered in dust the play button is, it will always work. Life will keep moving forward, the ribbon will keep circling through the tape.

Its a month later, she’s no longer wearing a costume and she’s no longer someone else’s puppet. For the first time in years she’s writing her own part for her own play, and her smile is not just part of a costume.

And she I will live happily ever after.

This is not the end.

Control

I hate surprises, and like always knowing what to expect. Whether it’s with work, making plans with friends, or even just my own thoughts, I like to be in control. I feel like I need to be in control. Especially when it comes to my own thoughts.

If you’ve never had intrusive thoughts, or even just had your thoughts be out-of-control, you might not know what I’m talking about, so I’ll try and explain. Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, unwarranted thoughts that usually accompany anxiety, depression, or OCD. They can come in the form of flashbacks or spontaneous thoughts, and can range anywhere from innocent to suicidal.

The best way I can explain these out-of-control thoughts is by saying it’s like putting your mind on shuffle. The next song could be Elton John, one of your favourites, or it could be U2, an album you hate that Apple chose for you. You never know what to expect, you feel like you have no control over your own mind.

This lack of control can be scary. For me, it’s very scary. I think that is why I like being in control in any area of my life that I can be. When my life is going smoothly my mind tends to be more clear. The flip side, unfortunately, also seems to be true; When I’m stressed and anxious, I have an increase of intrusive thoughts. It’s during these times that I depend on my planner, even more than usual. I use a daily planner that I absolutely love. It’s colour coded, has errand lists, to-do lists, quotes, and space for reflection. It keeps me not only organized, but grounded.

Keeping organized is my way of preventing intrusive thoughts from creeping into my mind. Some ways I cope when they do manage to sneak in are immediate affirmations, mindfulness and calming meditations, and of course, writing.

Hopefully every reader can either relate, or learn, from this post.

I’m okay, and so are you. See you next Sunday!

Hello again

After an unplanned hiatus, I’m back online. It’s been exactly 81 days since my last blogpost, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous coming back. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Do one thing a day that scares you”, so today I’m returning to jenninix.

My last blogpost had some negative backlash. This was the first time I’ve ever received criticism on my writing, which I realize is very lucky, but nevertheless, hurtful. It made me self-conscious about posting and for a second I thought about deleting my whole blog. Instead of making any rash decisions I went “offline” for what was supposed to be a few weeks, but quickly turned into months. I was struggling with my mental health, work and school, and time seemed to be flying past me.

Cut to almost 3 months later, I’ve seen two different therapists, made some positive changes, and I’m starting to feel better. I’ve been trying new ways of taking care of myself and actually feeling the benefits. Writing has always been a positive outlet for me, so I shouldn’t stop just because one person doesn’t like it.

A good friend of mine is always telling me to “put myself out there”, so this is me putting my thoughts back out there for the world to see. A short entry with no editing to dust the cobwebs off and shake out the nerves.

See you next Sunday!

 

48 hours.

I recently spiralled down, way down, this is how it went.

10:02 pm – Arrive at the pharmacy to pick up meds. Realize they closed at 10:00

11:00 pm – Going to sleep without one of my medications. About to spend the whole night twisting and turning.

4:30 am – Wake up soaked in sweat from a nightmare. Has to get up change clothes and bedding. Spends the next hour replaying the dream in my head.

7:15 am – Alarm goes off. I roll over and go back to sleep.

7:45 am – I wake up with a start, noticing I’ve slept in and jump out of bed to get ready for work.

8:06 am – Arrive back at the pharmacy to try and pick up my meds again. Realize they don’t open until 9:00…

8:10 am – Stop at a coffee shop to pick up breakfast. Coffee is burnt and they’re out of bagels.

8:20 am – Arrive at work.

4:30 pm – Arrive home from work. Immediately put on pyjamas and get in bed. Spend the next 5 hours napping on and off.

9:00 pm – Realize I didn’t go back to the pharmacy and now I am out of 2 different medications.

9:15 pm – Going to sleep for another stress filled night.

10:45 am – I wake up and race to meet my family for breakfast.

12:00pm – Arrive home and get back in bed. Spend the next 4 hours napping on and off.

4:30 pm – Arrive at the pharmacy to pick up both medications. Immediately takes one before driving home.

5:00 pm – Sitting in the driveway, feeling so heavy, wondering if I can make it into the house.

5:05 pm – Depression sinks in. Tears start to stream down my cheeks.

5:30 pm – I’m now sobbing and can’t figure out why. All of a sudden my mind is full of negativity.

5:45 pm – My mind starts heading back to it’s old ways, wondering where my old blade is. I start fighting with myself to stop. I start begging my mind to calm down.

6:00 pm – I fill the bathtub with hot water and climb in, hoping the water burning my skin will bring me back to the present.

6:30 pm – Still can’t calm down. As I refill the tub with hotter water my mind is flooded with negativity. I’m sobbing, my chest is heavy, it feels like my lungs are about to cave in.  When I feel like I can’t breathe anymore, I close my eyes, hold my breath and sink into the water. After what feels like an eternity my body’s natural instincts kick in and I sit up.

7:00 pm – Stumbling out of the tub, I gulp in fiery air, my lungs burning.

7:15 pm – I’m sitting in my bed focusing on my breathing, eventually it slows and I begin to write this post. Breaking down the past 48 hours into specific events, and accepting each individual event for what it was allows me to move past it and back into the now.

Cut to the next morning – I feel better. Lighter.

Sometimes it’s when you’ve been feeling the best that you hit the ground the hardest. Sometimes when you forget how horrible it feels, you forget how important your medications are to you.

Sometimes when all the happy has left your body you need to crack, so the light can find it’s way back in.

 

 

 

 

 

May 12

On April 25th, 2014 I decided to turn my life around. I decided I didn’t want to be sad anymore, and if I was going to live, I was going to live happily. Two weeks later, on May 12th, 2014 I stopped self-harming and started on the road to recovery.

The road to recovery can be very long, it can last anywhere from a week to your whole life. It isn’t a road that is easily travelled; it isn’t paved and it is all up hill. You’ll need to stop and take a rest sometimes and you might even slip backwards, however push forward because the feeling at the end is worth the struggle.

Everyone travelling on the road to recovery has a different path; Mine started with the purchase of a notebook. When I decided I was ready to stop cutting, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, I wanted to stop but I wasn’t exactly ready to let go of my blade. My therapist at the time told me to do something else to release, so I bought a notebook and sliced the pages instead of my skin. Seeing the cuts of paper fall out of the book was surprisingly satisfying. I’m not saying it “cured” me, or magically stopped my cravings, but it definitely helped because since that day I have not self-harmed once.

Along my journey I’ve found other things that have helped in my recovery. Reading, writing, yoga, strength training, and especially meditation. Meditation has been the one thing that I can always go to when I need a mental break, when I need a little push further up Recovery Road, when I needed to be reminded of the beauty in the world.

Through meditation I learned the story of the lotus. I learned that the lotus has to grow through thick mud and water before it is able to open to the sun and bloom. It was this story, as well as two quotes, that inspired me to get my latest tattoo. A lotus on my right leg, the leg I used to self-harm for the quote, “I am blooming from the wound where I once bled” by the poet, Rune Lazuli. The other being the quote featured above. It was Van Gogh who said “Normality is a paved road; It’s comfortable to walk but no flowers grow on it”. Recovery Road is not necessarily a “normal” route to take in life, but it is one that will change you. It will take you off the paved road and let you bloom.

Now I am two years clean of self-harm, with a lotus tattoo to remind me of all the mud that I have travelled through, and to remind me everyday to bloom.

Recovery

Quite often, I find myself wondering, what recovery feels like? How will I know when I start to recover from all the trauma that pins me down.

Mental illnesses are much the same as physical illnesses. If you break your leg, or get an infection, you take medications, rest, take care of your body. It’s the same for depression or anxiety, the medications (if you must), rest and take care of your mind. So it makes sense that recovery from a mental setback, would be the same as a physical setback.

When you’re recovering from the flu, you don’t necessarily notice, until you think about when the last time you coughed was and realize it’s been hours. I think its the same for depression, you don’t realize you’re feeling better until you think about how long it has been since the last time you felt down. Thinking back to when you felt down means a big step in recovery is reflection and knowing how to reflect without letting it affect you.

You must reflect on the negative experiences that made you who you are, to not let them have anything over you anymore. You must reflect on each time you’ve felt down, so you can recognize the space in-between when you felt fine. However, reflecting on the past can be a slippery slope. Its easy to get caught up in the past and let it hold you there, but if you look back with an analytical mindset you try and prevent that.

Having an analytical, or growth mindset when reflecting will allow you to look at your experiences from different views. One view being your heart, which remembers the emotions, and another being your brain, which acts as the outsider, able to understand multiple sides to every story. This turns your reflection into research, which to me, makes so much sense. If ever you didn’t understand something, you would research it. It’s the same for yourself, if at any point in time you don’t understand yourself or how you got to a certain place in your life, look back, research how, research why.

I’ve always been the type of person who only wants to focus on the present, and forget the past. However I’ve come to learn that you can only truly be in the present, the now, if your past isn’t holding you back. The past can be painful, very painful, which is why just trying to forget it doesn’t work, you must face it front on and come to terms with it. This starts with reflection.

Reflection turns into research. Research turns into recovery. Recovery turns into happiness.   

My Poetry Debut.

I’ve been working on loving my self, for some time now, and seeing I’m someone who struggles with depression and negative self-talk, it’s not easy. I guess re-wiring your mind isn’t supposed to be easy, is it.

From what I’ve learned, one of the major steps in learning how to love yourself, is taking care of yourself, physically and emotionally. Physically is the easy part. Exercise, eat well, drink lots of water, take your vitamins, and listen to your doctor. Taking care of your emotional self if the difficult part. You need to be able to recognize your emotions before you can understand them, and you need to understand them before you can heal them.

Years of therapy have helped me recognize my emotions, and now I’m learning on the understanding and healing, which tend to go hand-in-hand. Often times, so I’ve realized, is once you finally understand something you’ve been feeling for such a long time, healing comes naturally. Almost as if what was holding you back from healing was not understanding why you were feeling a certain way.

Most of my healing has come from the help of poetry. Poetry has always been something I’ve loved, but not something I ever truly connected with, until recently. Reading the work of Lovelace, Sin, and Kaur have helped me more than any “self-help” book ever could. For I learned that other people have felt what I’ve felt, due to reasons similar to my own, and have come out on the other side. That just because something happened to you, doesn’t mean it defines you, and doesn’t mean you can’t be you again.

I’ve been inspired by these fantastic writers and have started writing my own poems. Now, by no means am I a poet or an author, but the simple act of writing has always proven to be therapeutic for me, especially poetry. I think this is so, because of the beauty behind poetry. It’s hard to feel sad when you’re writing such beautiful words.

I’ve always said that I would never share my poetry, because 1) it’s a little dark, and 2) I don’t think I’m very good. That might sound a little superficial, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, which makes it hard to try new things, and writing poetry is definitely something new to me. However everyone starts somewhere, and if you don’t share your work, no one can learn from it.

They say you’re supposed to do one thing each day that scares you, so this is my big scary debut into the world of poetry.

May 13th
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't 
that was the day i passed the knife to you.
Each kiss, touch, and look was a lie
the knife dancing across my skin.
Every time you whispered 'i love you'
you dug the knife a little deeper.
I say i stopped cutting on May 13th, but i didn't
I stopped the day i left you. 

Sometimes a dark poems leave you feeling light. That is what this poem does for me. When I wrote it I didn’t plan to say what I said, the words just flowed. This was one of my first poems, and is about something that has very much changed my perspective on life. I’ve talked about self harm before, and it has been something I’ve wanted to forget for such a long time, however not anymore. I understand those emotions better now, and now they are what keep me grounded in times of unease.

My tally marks are a reminder of what I’m capable of surviving, and my poetry is a reminder of how I’m going to overcome anything that tries to hold me back from living.